Thursday, February 1

My Miscarriage Story

Hello everyone! It's been almost six months (that's half of a year!) since my last blog post and for that I am sorry. I've actually been wanting to get back into blogging for over a month now but it didn't feel right to just jump back in as if I hadn't just had a huge absence. So I've been waiting until I was mentally and emotionally prepared to explain my absence. So here goes nothing...

In August of last year depression reared its ugly head again. This is something I've been struggling with ever since I was 12 years old (but that's really a story for a different day). It just comes and goes with no rhyme or reason. For about a month I was just really down, no motivation to write, no energy to write, nothing. Then by the time I was starting to feel like myself again, in late September, I found out that I was pregnant and that I had gotten a new full-time job in the same week! That was a very eventful week. So then I had the motivation to get back to blogging but no energy because I was getting used to working full-time (which I hadn't done for a couple of years since I'd been working only part-time owning my own Jamberry business) and was absolutely exhausted from early pregnancy. Plus I was spending all of my free time reading up about all things pregnancy and baby related. Then in late November at three months pregnant I had a miscarriage, which I'll be getting into more details about below, which was a really devastating experience for me. I've been wanting to share that experience for a while now because hearing about other people's miscarriage experiences were very helpful to me in those early days but I just wasn't ready to do so. Until now.

My Pregnancy

In July of 2017 I officially got my very expired Implanon removed in preparation for my husband and I to get pregnant. We had been talking about it and planning it for a long time and decided, there's no time like the present! Then just two months later, a few days before my 28th birthday, I got a BFP - a big fat positive! We were both crazy excited and also a bit scared, it was all happening so fast. We were having a baby!!

We had a doctor's appointment the next week at 6 weeks pregnant and our due date was determined to be May 31, 2018. Within days I had read the entire Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and was getting a registry prepared. I was pumped for this baby! We told our families the next week and by that point I was already experiencing morning sickness (no vomiting though, thankfully), feeling bloated, my boobs were tender, all the pregnancy symptoms! Things were progressing very normally. We decided to announce our pregnancy publicly during the 9th week because things were going great and we were just too excited to keep it a secret anymore!

There was absolutely no reason for me to suspect that anything was going wrong with the pregnancy or our baby until the 12th week. The time when people claim that the threat of miscarriage nosedives...

The 12th Week

On Friday, November 17, 2017 at 12 weeks and 1 day pregnant I started to experience spotting and mild cramping. I was concerned but not overly so because in the 7th week I'd also had one day of spotting and it went away with no issues so I figured the same would happen again. But it didn't go away and I continued to spot that entire weekend. Since I had my 12 week appointment scheduled for that Monday I tried not to worry to much and made sure to bring it up to my OBGYN when I went in. She immediately said "spotting is common" and didn't seem at all concerned. She then tried to do the scheduled fetal heart exam but then she didn't hear anything. At this point I started really freaking out! She made me drink a big glass of water and tried again. She still couldn't hear anything. At this point she ordered an ultrasound. We had to wait around for nearly an hour because the clinic only had one ancient ultrasound machine for all the doctors to share. But finally she did an ultrasound and said the baby was small, much smaller than it should be at 12 weeks 4 days along but that there was a heartbeat. Relief! In fact, she thought that our conception date must be wrong and that the baby must only be 10 weeks 4 days along and that that is why she couldn't her a heart beat on the monitor. I didn't really see how our dates could be wrong because that would mean I'd gotten a positive pregnancy test at just 3 weeks (1 week after conception) but she said it was perfectly possible. So we accepted it.

Arrow is pointing to our little baby!

I went home with a new due date of June 12th, 2018 and a sense of relief having been told my baby was alive and well. But then everything changed.

The Miscarriage

That afternoon I went to work, still spotting and a little crampy but in good spirits. As my shift progressed my spotting shifted to bleeding and my minor cramps started feeling quite painful. I was scared. I went home early and tried not to panic. I called my doctor as soon as the clinic opened the next morning (November 21st) and was told to go to the ER. At the ER they did a number of tests including checking my cervix to see if it was dilated, testing my levels of hCG, and conducting another ultrasound to check on the baby. The doctor told me right away that my cervix was closed which was good, if I was dilating it meant I was having a miscarriage already. Then I waited for the other results, trying to remain optimistic. But of course we already know how this story ends...

It turned out my hCG levels were very low for being in the 12th week or even the 10th week of pregnancy. On top of that when the results came back from my ultrasound (this time a professional radiologist read them) it was determined that our baby did not have a heartbeat and in fact had stopped developing four weeks earlier during the 8th week of pregnancy. That is why my doctor had thought it looked small the day before. But why she said she saw a heartbeat I cannot say. I brought this up to the ER doctor and he said that unfortunately she is not trained in reading ultrasounds at the level that a radiologist is. (For the record, I found a new OBGYN and will never go to that doctor again as it was a huge breech of my trust to give me hope that my baby was alive and well when in fact it had died a month prior.)

We left being told that there was a 99% chance I would miscarry. Essentially short of a miracle our baby was dead. But I wasn't given any options as to what to do next, I was just sent home to wait it out. And it didn't take long.

At 6pm that night I developed extremely painful cramps that would come and go. It took me about an hour to realize I was having contractions. This was it. I was losing the baby.

The contractions continued to get more and more intense and closer together until the point that not only did I think I was going to die from the pain I was willing it to happen. I didn't know it was physically possible for the human body to feel pain such as that. It felt as if someone was stabbing me in the uterus while simultaneously stepping on my spine and crushing it. The back pain was the worst part. Then finally at 10pm when I thought I couldn't take it anymore I felt a "pop" and a gush of blood and ran to the bathroom.

From that point on every time I had a contraction it also came with a hemorrhaging of blood and tissue. This went on every few minutes for hours until I was so weak from fear and blood loss that I thought I was going to pass out right there on the toilet. At one point I even passed the fetus but I was so exhausted and terrified that I barely even looked at it and disposed of it with the rest of the blood and tissue (down the toilet). I really regret that. I wish I'd kept it for a burial or testing or something. But I was in such disbelief about what was happening and so afraid I was going to bleed out that the last thing I thought of at the time was "I better keep this tiny baby shaped piece of tissue that came out with that last gush of blood."

Then at 1am, since I'd been hemorrhaging for three hours straight by this point, my husband took me to the ER. That morning they had told us to come back if I had heavy persistent bleeding and I definitely did have that! Whereas the morning shift were very kind and answered all our questions the night shift was terrible. They simply checked my vitals, determined I wasn't dying, and after a little bit of monitoring sent me on my way to continue miscarrying at home, alone and scared. No IV, no blood transfusion, no pain killers, no sympathy, no advice. I was shocked. But okay, we went back home and by this point the contractions were finally getting farther apart so I upgraded to laying in bed and getting up every half an hour to clean the blood off myself and change my mega-super sized maxi pads.

By 6am the contractions and hemorrhaging finally stopped, after a solid 12 hours. It was the most traumatic experience I have been through and I was thoroughly unprepared for it. The way everyone made it sound I thought my bleeding and cramping might get a little worse, like a bad period or something. But this was something altogether different. Not only was the pain so much worse than anything I could have expected but the amount of bleeding and the passing of tissue was of the sort that I'd have thought I'd run out of blood at the rate I was going.

On Wednesday the doctor's office called to tell us to go to the hospital the next day, Thanksgiving, to get my hCG levels tested again to confirm the miscarriage (as if the contractions and blood loss weren't telling enough) and to schedule an appointment for me to see an OBGYN on Friday (I made sure it was a different one from my old one since I no longer trusted her).

The D&C

By Friday I was still spotting and cramping as I had before the full-blown miscarriage. It was determined that my hCG levels had dropped dramatically so yes, I did have a miscarriage (no surprise). At this point I was finally given some options, to either wait it out a week or two and let the miscarriage complete on it's own or to get an ultrasound to see if their was still "products of conception" left in my uterus, which my doctor believed there was since I was still bleeding and cramping. If there was still pregnancy tissue left in me then I would need a D&C. I opted to get the ultrasound done.

[For those who don't know, D&C stands for dilation and curettage. It's where a doctor dilates the cervix and then uses a medical instrument to scrape the uterine lining to remove all pregnancy tissues. It's actually the same procedure used for an abortion.]

The ultrasound showed that as I suspected the baby had passed. However, there was still pregnancy tissue in my uterus so I did need a D&C. I was scheduled to have one immediately and on a surgery table just two hours later.

The surgery itself was very easy. I was given general anesthesia so I don't remember anything except a freezing cold room full of strangers and then walking up in a different room with a nurse watching over me and then being wheeled back to my recovery room. Within an hour I felt better than I had before the surgery (probably due to finally being given pain killers!). However, I felt very empty after the surgery. Just knowing that my baby really was gone and I was no longer pregnant. I felt incomplete. A part of me was missing.

My Recovery

Physically I recovered surprisingly fast considering the entire miscarriage lasted over the course of a week. By the following Tuesday (just a few days after my surgery) I went back to work with very little soreness and no more bleeding. I was surprised how quickly my body bounced back and I attribute that to the D&C. Ultimately, I'm glad I got it rather than just waiting for everything to happen naturally. And really I wish I'd been given the option the morning I went to the ER and was told I was having a miscarriage rather than having to wait to have one naturally. Honestly, I don't know if I'd have gotten the D&C if given the option because I was still holding out hope for a miracle and that somehow my baby would make it. But it would have been nice to at least been given options. That being said that, my body bounced back very quickly. I got my period back one month (I think to the day!) after my bleeding had stopped post-miscarriage.

My emotional and psychological recovery though has taken much longer. It's still an on-going process. I still can't talk about my miscarriage and my pregnancy or my baby without crying. I can't even think about them without crying. I miss my baby. I had so many hopes and dreams for it and for our life. I don't even know if it was a boy or a girl, although while pregnant I was convinced I was having a boy so that's how I continue to think of the baby.

As difficult as it is to lose a baby, I've also lost my faith in the medical community because of this experience. Not only do I feel that I did not receive the medical help I needed during my miscarriage, nor was I properly prepared for the experience I had during my miscarriage, one of the hardest parts about it was the lack of answers. No one can tell me WHY this happened. Sure they have their theories and it's most likely due to a chromosomal abnormality. But no one actually knows. They don't know why miscarriages happen or how to prevent them or how to stop them when they're starting. They didn't even detect mine just 24 hours before it happened! I was told my baby was fine the day before I miscarried!

One of the hardest parts about losing our baby is watching life go on. I see other people getting pregnant and pregnant women getting bigger and people having their babies and babies growing up. And my baby will never grow up. I never even got to meet my baby. It's really difficult to describe the love and attachment that one has to their unborn child. I'm sure all mothers can relate to it. But the feeling of loss when that child you never got to know is gone? It's really hard to understand. Even for me. 

During the early days of my miscarriage I read a lot of books and articles and watched lots of videos about miscarriage. It helped me a lot to hear other people's miscarriage stores and to know I wasn't alone. One book that really helped me was "After Miscarriage: Medical Facts and Emotional Support for Pregnancy Loss". Since one thing I was really struggling with was the "Why?!" part of my miscarriage this book helped explain to me in a lot more detail why miscarriages can happen, how often they happen, how likely it is to happen again, what I can do to try to prevent it from happening again, etc. Another book that I liked (although it was a bit too religious-centered for me personally) was "Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy". This is why I wanted to share my own story. Not only so people close to me can have a better idea of what it was like and how I'm feeling, but so that others experiencing miscarriage will know they're not alone in their experience or their feelings. 

I was told to wait 3 months after the miscarriage before we try to conceive again. It's been a little over two so not much longer to wait now. Part of me cannot wait to get pregnant again. I feel like I won't be able to fully move on from this experience until I have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby in my arms. But I'm also very scared. I'm scared of forgetting this baby. I'm scared of having another miscarriage. I'm terrified of giving birth now. I had always planned to have this super natural birth, no medications for me, thank you very much. But after the pain of my miscarriage, I don't think I can handle childbirth. I'm scared I won't be as happy or excited during my next pregnancy. I'll be on pins and needles waiting to see if the baby is going to survive or not. I'm scared I won't get pregnant as quickly again next time. I'm scared I'll never fully move on.

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